With myriad distractions in the rearview mirror, Lee’s Summit West’s boys will roll into the final week of the regular season with a little momentum.
The Titans lost three straight games — to Park Hill, Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North — last month, but a late-season revenge tour started in fantastic fashion Friday with with a 62-39 win against the Trojans.
West, which plays at Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North next week, has now won five straight games — perhaps none more impressive than its 23-point thumping of Park Hill (14-10 overall, 6-5 Suburban Gold).
“We came out with some energy,” senior guard Mario Goodrich said. “We knew it was a big game, so we were trying to get this conference championship, so we have to come out and play hard.”
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The Titans (18-4 overall, 8-2 Suburban Gold) will take a one-game lead over Lee’s Summit heading into the season’s final two games and already have locked up the No. 1 seed for the Class 5, District 13 tournament in two weeks.
Goodrich and fellow senior guard Phillip Brooks missed games due to football recruiting trips throughout January, while Oklahoma State-bound post Yor Anei missed eight games for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
But the last few weeks the focus has returned to the hardwood for the entire Titans squad — including Goodrich, who signed Feb. 7 with Clemson, and Brooks, who will be a preferred walk-on at Kansas State next fall.
“Oh yeah, it’s time to have fun — get a state ring, hopefully,” Goodrich said, sporting his Clemson hat. “Just balling with my teammates the rest of the year. We’re all coming back together. Our starting five, we look good in practice. The bench, everybody’s just coming in, stepping up. We just look like a different team now.”
Goodrich scored a team-high 21 points for West, which set the tone early with defensive pressure.
The Titans jumped out to a 14-6 lead in part by forcing five first-quarter turnovers.
“I thought there were stretches there where we played really, really well,” West coach Michael Schieber said. “There were stretches there where we obviously have some room for improvement. Overall, I thought our defensive effort was pretty good tonight and had a lot of deflections. We were able to convert those to easy buckets and it made the difference in the game.”
Defense fueled another run in the second quarter.
The Trojans called a timeout after Goodrich drained a three-pointer to go up 19-8, but the Titans stole two straight inbound passes, getting another Goodrich trey and an old-fashioned three-point play by Anei for a nine-point swing in about 30 seconds.
Park Hill answered with a 9-0 run, but Anei ended it with his own three-pointer for a 28-17 lead in a game that was played at an entertaining pace, featuring alley-oops and dunks and plenty of blocks on both ends.
At one end in the first quarter, a Christian Bishop block started a fast break that ended with a Goodrich dunk attempt getting blocked by Ronnie Bell. The Titans forced 16 turnovers and blocked at least 12 shots.
“It’s awful hard when you’ve got those little guys out there pressuring you and you’ve got two guys (Anei and Bishop) behind them that beat it off the window,” Schieber said.
The Trojans’ final gasp came less than a minute into the third quarter when Bell rocked the rim with a dunk to pull within 33-24.
It’s as close as Park Hill would get.
Bishop scored 12 points and Anei added 10, while guard Rich Johnson scored nine points.